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University of Michigan Law School

State and Local Government Law

Amendment rules

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Amendment Creep, Jonathan L. Marshfield Nov 2016

Amendment Creep, Jonathan L. Marshfield

Michigan Law Review

To most lawyers and judges, constitutional amendment rules are nothing more than the technical guidelines for changing a constitution’s text. But amendment rules contain a great deal of substance that can be relevant to deciding myriad constitutional issues. Indeed, judges have explicitly drawn on amendment rules when deciding issues as far afield as immigration, criminal procedure, free speech, and education policy. The Supreme Court, for example, has reasoned that, because Article V of the U.S. Constitution places no substantive limitations on formal amendment, the First Amendment must protect even the most revolutionary political viewpoints. At the state level ...